JHSBC Oral History Collection
DG: What are some of the things you’ve done with the organizations?
IZ: Oh just…I think in Haddassah I’ve just done the ordinary things that everybody does. You know, I work at the bazaar, [laughing], I bake, it seems to me one was always baking for Haddassah. I wasn’t too active with Council ‘til latterly actually after I retired from Sisterhood. And with Council, on behalf of Council…Council gave me the opportunity to establish [through a hire] an adult daycare centre.
IZ: Which was extremely gratifying.
DG: Okay, tell us about it.
IZ: It was myself and a young woman who had never been in the community and dropped out of the community and Dorothy, I don’t even remember her name. But she was interested in Jewish Family Service Agency. And her family was not affiliated with the [community], but she—it was the Jewish community—but she was interested in it. And the two of us, over a period of two possibly three years, were able to prove the need, we knew the need was there, get it together, get a…receive money from Federation to operate minimally for one year. And during that year we established our credibility and we were able to convince the government to sponsor us because they had shut the door on establishing any more adult daycares. In fact, we convinced them there was a need for adult daycares for Jewish seniors who were really very uncomfortable in non-Jewish society, especially when the holidays came around. So ever since its inception there was a waiting list.
JA: This was a…man that came in, and he said, you know, he [was] from the East, said he was Jewish. He had no friends at all. And he hadn’t eaten that day and [so on]. So you know the first thing I would do is feed them, you know send them down to the counter in the centre, you know. And I kept an account there when I sent someone down she knew that she had to feed them and, you know, a proper meal. And I took out a $10 bill because that’s usually what it ran into, you know. [Inaudible]. And he didn’t pick up that $10 bill. And for some reason, I thought, you know, [he] probably, you know, expected more. And he said, “I just can’t take it. I’ve been lying to you, I’m not Jewish. I’m an Arab.” So I talked to him a while. I didn’t give him a $10 bill, I gave him a $5 bill and I phoned the, a worker at the Salvation Army there. I said, “I have this young man here. He has no connection here at all. He is of Arabic nationality and I’d like you to take care of him.” So she said, “Send him round, send him round.” And I worked with the Salvation Army, I worked with the United Church. The United Church was very, very…they just believed me that’s all. If I sent them, they didn’t give further investigation. And the same thing with the Salvation Army. I always, even now, I never pass a Salvation stand, [when] I don’t stop to put something in.
Interviewers: Irene Dodek & Sally Tobe
EC: And so when I left, when I was finished with high school I was lucky to get a job at a firm called Parsons, Brown, and Winkler. The firm is still, it’s called Parsons, Brown.
[ID]: Is that an accountants firm?
EC: No, that’s an insurance company. And the Browns are, what’s his name, the wheeler dealer today.
EC: Peter Brown is the son of Ralph Brown, the youngest son of Ralph Brown who still lives in the area.
[ID]: What sort of work did you do, Elaine?
EC: I was, the, what would you call it, I think they just sort of used me to file and then I used to do the switchboard. Wait ‘til I tell you what they paid in those days. At noon I took over the switchboard when the regular person went to lunch. I tried to save the money when things got very bad...See, I graduated in 1931 and I was lucky to get a job that paid $25 a month.
[ID]: This was during the Depression.
EC: During the Depression and my father was sick and my mother had these boys rooming with us. And the next year things were so bad everybody had to take a 10% cut and my salary became 22.50. But you know the streetcar there was five cents each way, I took a brown bag lunch and I think I went to work as my sister went to school, we probably each had two skirts and a couple of blouses, and a sweater, and a coat, and a black pair of shoes for winter and a white one for summer.
DS: Actually in 1934 I came out here, I didn’t know anything about golf. I came up to play football and basketball for Vancouver from the Prairies. I took up golf about ’47. ’46 or ’47. Shortly after that we organized a group of players that used to play at a public course called Langara. And from that, [we] developed a [golf] organization. Cedarcrest was, consisted of about 50 players of various means. They weren’t all rich golfers, some of them just worked in stores and they played…But we joined together at that time so we could have some tournaments or some little get togethers.
CL: This was…Was Cedarcrest entirely Jewish golfers?
DS: Yes, and what we used to do was go over to Peace Portal for tournaments as well. And we had the odd one at Langara or Fraser golf course, all of which were public courses.
[Tape cuts out].
CL: Okay, we can proceed. This was really post-World War II…
CL: …at that time. What was the instigation for the Jewish golfers to get together? Did they naturally band together or were they prevented from joining other clubs?
DS: Well, unfortunately at that particular time there was an antipathy, I guess, of most private clubs towards having Jewish golfers come in any large numbers. And a few of us who wished to join private clubs and get away from this standing in line to try to get on to the golf course, found that the only way we could have a private course would be to have our own. And so we had a meeting of Cedarcrest golfers and a committee was struck to go out and look for a golf course which we could possibly purchase. Gleneagles in West Van turned out to be that course. We bought it for a very nominal sum, we only paid $50,000 for it originally.
Interviewer: Ann Krieger & Myer Freedman
DN: And we landed in Quebec. And Quebec we landed on August the 18th or 19th because I arrived in Winnipeg on August the 22nd.
AK: What year was this again?
DN: 1912. But one thing I want to tell you, when I arrived in Canada and when they asked me for money I was supposed to have at least $50 to show that you’re not going to be a burden to the country. My brother wrote me that I have to say that I haven’t got any money because I’ve got a brother in Canada. Well, they asked me for money, I said, “I haven’t got any.” I only had really 50 cents, that’s it but I said, “I haven’t got any.” So, they couldn’t make out heads or tail. And they knew that I had to travel for three days on the train, three days and three nights but I didn’t realize, so I was singled out to the side and put away in a waiting room and I sure thought I was going to be sent back because…And I waited for many, many hours ‘til a Jewish Immigration Aid man turned up and he told me that I should go along with them. I went with them and the train was still waiting, for that matter I think it waited ‘til I got on. They loaded up me with three full gunny sacks of food for the journey.
AK: Would this have been from the Jewish community of Winnipeg or from the Canadian…
DN: No, that’s in Quebec. That’s the Jewish Immigration Aid Society, you see this was, I want to make that clear. This is what I want to get [in there]. So I had more than I could eat and therefore—there was other immigrants too going to Winnipeg and I shared most of my food with them. They could use it too because there was big families. This is how I came to Canada. In Canada, in Winnipeg, my brother met me there not with a Cadillac and not even with a Ford but he met me with a bicycle which I never rode a bicycle in my life. He put me on the handlebars and he carted me, I would say about 20 blocks. That was the first thrill in Canada.
BW: I went out and I got very friendly with [Boothe] that was a police officer that used to walk this beat down there. So I asked him, “Where do you think I should open a store?” So we looked around and he said, “I think right here, 1200 block Granville Street is the best.” There was plenty of empty stores.
ID: Were there? And it was not a bad area then either, now it’s kind of…
BW: Well, no, it was still bad. No it wasn’t, it was a good area compared but the business was bad. And the store was empty since 1929, so there was, that was already 1932, [going] early to ’32. And it belonged to a Dr. [Guy]. So I phoned him up and I want to come and see him. And I come in to see him and he says, “Well, you know that it used to be, that store was renting for $400 a month.” I said, “Yes, but it’s empty for the last three years or four years.” He said, “No, it’s only three, [three years or something].” So I sat for a few more minutes and talked to him and said, “I can pay you $65 a month. That’s what you’re gonna get and as soon as I am established I’ll raise to 75 and maybe 85 and 100 and so on.” I don’t know, I must have talked him into or maybe he just wanted to get rid of it or maybe I made some impression because I was still quite young. I was 17. So he says, “Okay, here’s the keys.” I rented for 65 bucks a month.
ID: And you opened up a second hand store?
ID: What made your father want to leave Russia?
BW: Well, what it really started, really finished at is one night, [they] knocked on the door about two o’clock in the morning, two or three o’clock in the morning. It was after 12 anyways. And they told him to dress and they arrested about 2, 300 no, 350 people. There was clergymen, a lot of Jewish people, but there was not...
[Tape cuts out]
BW: They knocked on the door and came in and told Dad to dress fast and to come along with them. And of course we heard so many stories so Morrie and myself grabbed his legs and started to cry. And Mother started to cry because we knew that a lot of them never came back once they arrest them. And the fellow pulled out his sword from that and he told Mother that to take us away or if not, he’ll chop our heads off. And [she] took us away and they arrested him. He was away for four days. And out of all the people that was arrested about half of 14 returned. The rest of them, nobody ever knew what happened to them.
ID: Now, what reason did they give for arresting him?
BW: [They didn’t for arresting him], they didn’t give no reason.
ID: They didn’t have to give a reason.
BW: They didn’t. No reason at all. Now when he came back his hair was as white as a ghost. And he just looked horrible. We were still in Russia, we came over here, we lived for 10 years in Vancouver. Everybody, I asked him, and Mother, everybody, “What happened?” He never said one word what happened. Either he forgot or he didn’t want to tell because it must have been so horrible. We never knew. He died, he never told us what happened in the four days that he was in jail.
ID: Was this…
BW: By the communists.
ID: Yes, now, but when they arrested him, was it after that that he decided to leave Russia? It wasn’t before?
BW: No. [What we’re talking about,] because once after that he decided and so on. But he never told us what happened.
AK: What was Vancouver like when you first came?
JY: Vancouver was a…
AK: The Jewish community.
JY: Yeah, it was a very nice community. People were closer one to another. Most of the people were concentrated in the east side of the, it was on the Georgia, Pender, Keefer. And people, seems to me, were more together. Today if you want to see somebody you have to make an appointment or they have to invite you before or make appointment ahead of time. There, if you felt like seeing somebody you just walked in the house and your friends, you go to Georgia Street on a summer evening everybody was sitting outside on the veranda and chatting, talking. And they were all together.
AK: Was it a mixed, other people than Jewish people lived there? There wasn’t any…Were there Chinese people at that time or not?
JY: Yes, it was, sure there were mixed people but the Jewish people seemed to concentrate in one area. Afterwards, later on, you know they started to move away from that neighbourhood. And coming to the [Fairmount] district.
AK: Mount Pleasant district.
MF: We then moved to Princess Avenue where we lived until 1921 or thereabouts. And our home then was between Georgia and Union. And I believe it’s still standing. There our neighbours were practically all Italian. The Venice Bakery [the front of it] was on Union Street and our backyard touched the backyard of Venice Bakery.
DM: Oh really.
MF: Yeah, at that particular time. And then McLean Grounds was where our family played and children, as children we grew up. Strathcona School I remember only briefly because I was there ‘til I was 11 so got five years. And the teacher that I had for two or three of those years, I don’t know how it worked out, teachers were the Carns sisters, C-A-R-N-S who taught me. They’re the ones I remember most vividly.
DM: Can you describe them, what they were like?
MF: Well, one was tall and kind of a boney structure. And I think they were Scottish but I’m not sure. But the one I liked best of all who spanked me more often than the other (laughs) for my misdemeanours, I think her name was Katie, Katherine. And that’s as clear as I can remember. Now, life at that time centered around religious groups so when I went to, the first…After first arrival Mother sent me to a nursery school. It was in the basement of I think the Presbyterian Church on Pender Street. And the structure I don’t know if it still stands or not, I should go up and see it. And I remember enjoying the classes there very much. The only gym in that area that we could enjoy that was of any value was the Japanese gym. Which you most be aware of the Japanese gym, it was on I think Jackson Avenue between Powell and Cordova. And I look back on life in those days we enjoyed a real fine ethnic background.
Interviewers: Daphne Marlatt & Carole Itter
GH: Living in that neighbourhood was such a melting pot. It was, there was no such thing as being separate. We were all immigrants, well all our parents were immigrants together. And whether you were Italian, or Yugoslavian, or Chinese, or Japanese, or Jewish, or whatever you were everybody got along beautifully. And there was such a warmth in that neighbourhood I can’t begin to tell you. There was just, you know…
[DM]: Can you give us some examples?
GH: Well, I don’t know, I think the prime example was in later years I’m going back to when I was 20, my mother became very, very ill and she was in the hospital a number of weeks and then came home and was confined to home for almost two years. And when she first came home from the hospital we’d never know what we’d find on the back porch. It could be eggs, it could be vegetables, or else somebody would bring over a hot dish of something. And you know, the concern was so great.